Number Rules

Number Rules

The following are some general rules for handling numbers in academic writing. Of course, there are always exceptions.

Rule 1

Spell out numbers 1 through 10. (There are exceptions such as the previous sentence in which I want the numbers to stand out for quick reference.) You can use numerals for numbers above 10.

He needed six extra items in his basket.

Sherry counted 60 students on the bus.

Rule 2

Avoid starting a sentence with a number. If you must start a sentence with a number, spell it out.

Eight participants cancelled at the last minute.

(Most sentences can be restructured to avoid the issue: At the last minute, twenty-two participants cancelled.)

Rule 3

Be consistent. If some numbers in a sentence should be spelled and some in figures, write all in figures. If all the numbers are relatively small, they could be spelled out. Being consistent is best.

Of the fifteen participants, eight of them were men.

Picture2Rule 4

Large numbers can be expressed in a combination of figures and words.

The Xreana Corporation had a $2.6 million profit last year.

Rule 5

When a fraction is by itself, write it in words.

They saw three-quarters of the concert.

Write a mixed number entirely in figures.

Those jeans are now 2 ½ times more expensive.

Rule 6

Write indefinite numbers in words not in figures.

Many people have thousands of “friends” on social media platforms.

Rule 7

Write ordinal numbers in words if they can be expressed in one or two words. (Ordinal numbers tell the order such as first, second, third.)

This is our twenty-seventh anniversary.

George won the talent show for the fourth time!

There is no need to stress about these “rules” when writing, but they can be helpful.

| Tags: | Return